Freddie & Me Gives Readers An “Inside the Ropes” Glimpse into the Masters in Augusta
By Kim McHugh
With The Masters in play this week Freddie & Me: Life Lessons from Freddie Bennett, Augusta National’s Legendary Caddy Master, deserves a mention. The book, authored by Tripp Bowden, is a quick and often lighthearted narrative.
It gives an “insider’s” glimpse into the revered club, while shining a light on the friendship created between two people from different worlds—one an older African American gentleman of modest means, the other a ten-year-old white child whose physician father afforded the boy many privileges.
The young Bowden was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. As readers begin turning pages they learn early on that Bowden, who as a child—despite having the world’s most famous course just down the road—wasn’t keen on golf.
Tripp’s dad, Dr. Talmadge Bowden, was a respected doctor in town and Bennett’s physician, who introduced the youngster to the caddie master when Bennett stopped by for a check up. That meeting led to a fishing date on a pond near the par-3 course at Augusta National.
Golf is Stupid, Fishing is Wonderful.
Bennett: “Hey, man,” he says, turning to face me. “Your daddy says you like to fish.”
Bowden: “I love to fish,” I say, and it’s the truth.
Bennett: “What’cha doing tomorrow?”
Bowden: “Nothing,” I say.
Bennett: “That settles it then. Me and you are gonna catch us a couple hundred bream tomorrow. I’ll pick you up in the morning.”
These excerpts set the tone for how Bowden captures Bennett’s personality and readers are taken on a journey that, while giving glimpses of the venerable course and its acclaimed tournament, is really about the life lessons Bennett taught the young Bowden off the course. Chapters titled Night Crawlers and the Vardon Grip, Learning from a 1-iron, I’m in the Jailhouse Now and The Bank of Freddie invite readers to keep turning the pages.
Welcome to the World of Freddie-isms.
“Putting is all about feel, man. Feel and going with your gut. Just like life. Make the decision you believe in and give it a chance to happen. Don’t look, listen. Let the ball tell you whether you were right or wrong.” “You don’t read Augusta’s greens, man. You remember them.” and “Even the best golfer in the world isn’t as perfect as he might appear. You ain’t gotta be perfect to succeed.” are two more of many Freddie-isms readers come upon in the 224 page book.
Bennett, who was a fixture at Augusta National for more than 40 years until he retired in 2000, spoke these and other words of wisdom. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 76, closing the book on a relationship with Bowden that lasted 30 years, but spawning the idea for Freddie & Me. The book was released in 2009.
Bowden Plays Collegiate Golf, Caddies at Augusta.
Influenced by Bennett, the young lad warmed up to the game, eventually playing in High School and at the Division 1 level in college. Bowden also became a caddy—the first full-time white caddy in Augusta’s history. Though golfers will find the book appealing for obvious reasons, non-golfers will also appreciate it for Bennett’s life lessons.
Kim D. McHugh is a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer and member of the Golf Writers Association of America. His articles have appeared in SKI, RockyMountainGolf.com, Hemispheres, Colorado Expression, Tastes of Italia, Luxury Golf & Travel, Nicklaus and Colorado AvidGolfer.